Surprisingly enough, there’s a psychology to how we relate to numbers that can have a powerful impact on both our nutritional and emotional health. Tune in as Emily Rosen, Director of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, shares some great insights on this fascinating topic. You’ll discover how we can give away our power to numbers when it comes to weight and to calories. Equally important, you’ll get inspired by how you can reclaim your power around calories and weight, and create a more nourishing relationship with food. This is another great video from IPEtv!
In the comments below, please let us know your thoughts. We love hearing from you and we read and respond to every comment!
Here is a transcript of this week’s video:
Hi, I’m Emily Rosen, Director of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating.
Today’s topic: Are Numbers Ruining Your Nutritional Health?
Numbers are amazing. Numbers are powerful. Numbers – and how they form the basis of mathematics – are the hidden code of the known universe; the physics of how creation works. All technology, all science, every machine you own is based on numbers. Your bank account is based on numbers. Our biology is tightly based on a 24-hour cycle. Our brainwaves, our heartbeat, our blood pressure, and so many important functions of the human body are kept within a specific range of numbers that’s crucial for life.
So, it should come as no surprise that numbers are super important in the realm of nutrition.
We’re going to take a look at the psychology of numbers. We’re going to drop underneath the obvious when it comes to numbers, and see how our relationship with certain kinds of numbers has a big impact on our emotional state, and our behaviors around food and body.
Take a moment and consider how powerful numbers are in your life.
Have you noticed that when the numbers in your bank account reach a certain low – you feel dis-empowered or afraid? And when those same bank account numbers hit a certain high, our entire outlook can completely change. But notice that on one level, all that changed was a number, and our life was hugely impacted.
Well, that same powerful influence of numbers lives in our relationship with food and health.
Perhaps the place where we are most moved by the numbers in the nutrition universe is the number on the scale. When it goes up, we can feel like a failure. We might then choose to intensely diet, or do extreme exercise. We might binge and purge, or avoid any kind of dietary fat. The bottom line is that an upward moving number on the scale will often drain our personal power and self respect.
And of course, we will likely feel successful and victorious when the number goes down. Mission accomplished. We’re the winners, we’re nutritional and weight loss heroes. It’s a high for so many people. But that same high can come crashing down the next day if we gain even a pound.
The power of numbers in nutrition is also prominent in the concept of calories.
Because calories are deeply connected to weight loss, and weight loss is something we can covet like nothing else, it stands to reason that calories can make or break us. If we keep our calorie count to some certain number, then we’re considered successful and we have permission to like ourselves. But if we eat too many numbers – meaning calories – then our worth as a human being has plummeted.
Counting calories can be a fantastic prison of numbers for so many people. We can allow it to dehumanize us and drain us of our self-respect, and our natural connection with food.
Other places where numbers can rule us in nutrition and health in a big way include: counting fat grams, and the intense way we give power to our blood cholesterol levels.
So here is something I’d like you to notice in all of this:
We can become deeply convinced of the importance of numbers to the point where we lose ourselves.
We often believe, with an intense fervor, in the scientific basis of the numbers that we’re aiming for.
But who says you need to lose 5 pounds, 10 pounds, 15 pounds, or whatever the number is? Where is that number etched in scientific reality? Who says we need to eat some specific amount of calories to lose a specific amount of weight? Where is the 100% irrefutable scientific proof that manipulating caloric amount in some specific way will work for any given person?
We are all biochemically unique.
And equally important, when we create a sense of stress around numbers – the scale, our food amount, our calorie counting – we literally go into stress chemistry, meaning sympathetic nervous system dominance – which translates into increased cortisol and insulin levels, which in turn will tend to signal the body to store weight, store fat, and not build muscle – just the opposite effect of what we are looking for by obsessing about numbers.
Prolonged stress chemistry also de-regulates appetite, creates inflammation, and can lead to a host of stress induced symptoms such as poor digestion, fatigue, low immunity, pain, and more.
So, consider examining your relationship with numbers.
Be honest with yourself.
How much do you give away your power and self-dignity when you stand on the scale?
How much do you imprison yourself around calories or fat grams?
It’s time to rise up.
It’s time to take back your power.
Please look at how you do numbers.
Stop being small when the numbers don’t do what you want them to do.
Grow bigger than the numbers that you’ve given so much power to.
You just might find yourself happier, better nourished, and with a more empowered metabolism.
I hope this was helpful.
Become a Mind Body Eating Coach
Now enrolling for October 2023.
Make real, lasting change - in your life and the lives of others using eating psychology coaching tools.
Subscribe to The Psychology of Eating Podcast
Get notified when new episodes go live.